Part 4…..Why Realism?….continued.

Timeworn and Weatherbeaten, Atherton

Continuing the address by Frederick Ross:

“Modernism needs to reject all realism because they are rejecting nearly all meaning. How many modern works are titled with the word “Untitled”? Untitled #1 Untitled #33 Untitled ad nauseum. They wear the word “Untitled” like a badge of honour. In doing this, they are telling us and their professors alike…”Look I was careful not to imbue this mess I made on the canvas with any sort of meaning at all!”

Storytelling has become a dirty word in the world of fine art. Storytelling is demeaned as mere “illustration” and “illustration” itself is relegated to the “commercial arts.” Go sign up to study in the fine arts department of any college or university in America, and tell the “officials” who run the place, that you want to paint great anecdotal scenes either as histories, or allegorical paintings, or even every day scenes that capture modern life…anything that might symbolize or express the most powerful of human themes. What do you think will happen?

After looking down their nose at you, trying to figure out how to say what they want without insulting you too much, they will politely tell you that, “Well dear, you should really check out the graphic arts department or look into a commercial art school or go to a trade school for that matter; we do not consider your interests fine art.” They will tell you that storytelling is not what they do. It doesn’t interest them. It’s not a fitting purpose for fine art. It’s not “Relevant”.

So, what is fitting for modernist and post-modernist philosophy? What is relevant? They will tell you: ‘form for its own sake”…”colour for its own sake”…. “line or mass for their own sake.” That is art. There is nothing else that art should communicate or express. They say they’re showing us how to see differently. But we all see what’s there and more-so what is not there. To them these abstract or minimalist gimmicks are far more worthy of accolades of merit than recreating scenes from the real world, or from our fantasies, myths or legends; more profound than imagery which shows our hopes, dreams, and the most powerful moments in life. Empty canvases, or empty rooms, or piles of rocks are more important to them and far more “relevant” subject matter, than the moments in life that describe and define our shared humanity. Squares of colour are superior to subjects about people of colour; layers of textured paper trumps showing the layered textures of life. Dribbles of paint are more compelling than a child learning how to dribble a basketball. Bags of garbage are considered more sophisticated than showing the transition from self-conscious adolescence to self-assured adulthood. And a light blinking on and off in an empty room attracts journalistic praise while the blinking passage of life and time are but worthless sentimentality.

These are the ignorant precepts, of the prefects, who hold our museums and colleges in a hundred-year long grip of banal irrelevancies; boring our inner souls and our youth alike in a system where the skilled are ridiculed and the talented are ignored and disillusioned. The old masters until very recently were dying off without a trained generation to protect, preserve and perpetuate that which had been preserved for so many centuries before.

Well I’m now ecstatic to say that there is such a generation and it’s all of us. We all are part of it. And the realist artists of today are culture’s heroes and heroines. We are all together playing a role in preserving and further developing one of humanities greatest accomplishments: the Fine Arts. Just three short decades ago there was practically nobody left who believed as we do now. But in the past ten years, especially, there has been an explosion in the size and ranks of the realist movement. From a trickle there is today a raging torrent of tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people devoted to the resurgence of great realist fine art which has been the missing universal language that can help interpret and express the ideas and developments of the last 100 years, perhaps, in many ways, the most important century in all of human history.

Many artists today are once again looking at the achievements and the great art of the past, and once again endeavouring to build upon what has come before as we continue into the 21st century.”

(to be continued……..)